When it comes to working part-time while at college, work-life balance is everything. That’s according to Indian student Jitesh Emmanuel, who was lucky enough to get a part-time job on campus at Cork Institute of Technology during his postgrad in Cyber Security.
Working one’s way through college has many benefits apart from the remuneration received. It presents opportunities which can be attained first-hand that prepare oneself for the real working world. Working in a foreign country is totally different compared to working in our home country. As an international student, it helps in gaining valuable experience in understanding the language, work culture and lifestyle of the people.
While the prospect of working part-time while at college might initially seem attractive, it requires proper time management. One needs to find a balance between working during college hours and conducting research, revision and homework to avoid scrambling at the last moment to meet assignment deadlines.
Know your rights
Currently, international students in Ireland on stamp 2 visas are legally entitled to work for up to 20 hours per week during school hours and 40 hours per week when there are no classes. Since February 1, 2020, the minimum hourly wage has been increased to EUR 10.10.
Be prepared for unskilled work
The ugly truth about part-time jobs is that rarely will one find a job that has anything remotely to do with your course. The vast majority of part-time openings are in unskilled positions like waitressing, dish washing, babysitting, product promoting etc. Realistically, most of the technical, core jobs require some working experience in related fields. While some prefer applying online though job advertisement sites like jobs.ie or indeed.ie, others follow the old-school way of walking down to each and every store or cafe to hand over their CVs.
Work on campus
In most of the colleges in Ireland there often are vacant positions available for lab assistants, research assistants and teaching assistants. A quick browse through the college’s HR website (every college has one) might provide some valuable information about available vacancies on the college campus. I secured a part-time job as a research assistant at the research centre located in my college campus by applying through the HR website of my college.
Don’t overlook careers fairs
Pay careful attention to the careers fair organised in the college during the first semester. While most of the companies at the fair are on the lookout for interns and full-time job seekers, there are some who have part-time positions on offer. To cite a case in point, a friend of mine, who had applied for part-time position during a careers fair organised at my college, immediately got an offer with a leading supermarket chain shortly after the fair ended.
Get your CV right
Most of the part-time work schedules are negotiable and a good majority of them issue pay checks on a bi-weekly basis. Since the number of part-time jobs is always lower than the number of applicants, the competition is incredibly high.
If you want to be successful in securing an interview call, highlight your key strengths and weaknesses in the CV. Be genuine while stating the facts and substantiate the achievements with figures. Do not forget to mention what visa you are on and how many hours of work you are entitled to per week. What HR personnel look for in a student applicant for a part-time position is flexibility, previous experience (if any) and the ability to socialise with people.
Saying ‘No’ is okay sometimes
Working while studying has its advantages. However, to reap the benefits of working as a student for years to come it is critical to find the right balance. Put your own well-being first.
Do not shy away from saying no if the extra shifts steal away your revision time. Be honest and open with the employer about work hours and make sure to leave room in your life for yourself. Life is too short – and your studies too important – to do anything else.